International medical students are urging a re-evaluation of an in-person exam that would force them to fly to Canada during the pandemic.
The exam, called the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC), is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13. It is a requirement for international medical graduates who plan to apply to residency in Canada. The exam “includes a series of stations where candidates are presented with typical clinical scenarios using in-person simulations,” according to the Medical Council of Canada (MCC), and is used by residency programs to screen and select international medical students for training.
Even though the physical part of the examination to assess clinical skills has been cancelled, candidates must still attend in-person to describe verbally what they would do in various clinical situations. The exam is also held in March every year, but writing it then makes it too late for students to apply to residency, which will be in February 2021 because of the pandemic.
HuffPost Canada spoke to several students who are concerned about booking last-minute flights not knowing whether test centres will be open and worried about missing so much school because of the required quarantine periods that they won’t be able to graduate.
“Ultimately, international medical students, whether residing in Canada or abroad, are being forced to accept an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 by participating in the NAC examination,” according to an open letter written by two students sent to the deans of Canadian medical schools, and shared with HuffPost.
Over 900 people have signed a petition asking for the exam to be moved to a future date, changed to an online format or cancelled altogether.
“The MCC understands that travel during the pandemic is especially challenging, however our stakeholders have encouraged us to continue with administration of our exams despite the uncertainty,” Dr. Maureen Topps, the MCC’s Executive Director and CEO, said in an...